United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says “vaccine nationalism” is on the rise as wealthier nations line up to buy millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines at the expense of much poorer nations.
During a virtual meeting Wednesday with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, Guterres called for contributions of $4.2 billion over the next two months for the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, the joint project between the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries.
The head of the world body said fully funding COVAX is the only means to ensure any potential vaccines will be available for the African continent and other developing countries.
“If Africa is not properly supported, we will not be able to fight the pandemic anywhere effectively,” Guterres said.
The U.N. chief’s plea comes as several nations are preparing to follow in Britain’s footsteps in launching mass inoculation drives. A special committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected Thursday to grant emergency use authorization of the joint Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, with the first inoculations to begin early next week.